The Breakdown: Confirmation hearing for Judge Merrick Garland begins

Plus: A Capitol police officer discusses his encounter with Capitol rioters and the U.S. hits 500,000 COVID-19 deaths.
24:52 | 02/22/21

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Transcript for The Breakdown: Confirmation hearing for Judge Merrick Garland begins
Hi everyone welcome to the breakdown I'm Diane miss Ada. Ed and jerk Phillips in for Terry Moran president Biden is ordering flags be lowered to half staff for five days. As a nation approaches out once unimaginable milestone. 500000. American lives lost a corona virus this is all happening as the race to vaccinated the country gets back on track. After deadly winter storms delayed six million doses plots the new headline about how many doses you might need. If you already have had the virus. Also ahead a senate hearing is underway for attorney general nominee Merrick Garland and president Biden's pick is facing questions on a number of issues including how he plans to handle the investigation. Into the cap. It'll future. I think this was most. Heinous attack Democrat on the democratic process cius and I've ever seen and one that I never expected. To see in my life. We have the latest from Capitol Hill. And for the first time a capitol police officer is speaking out on camera revealing what it was like. Inside the building during that January 6 attack. They handle tactical gear and bulletproof vests they were ready to go I was scared I was absolutely scared. What he tells our peer Thomas got coming face to face with that mob that exclusive interview. It is just ahead but we begin with the confirmation hearing for president Biden's nominee for attorney general. Judge Merrick Garland who President Obama once nominated for the Supreme Court has spent the day taking questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here's a look at some of the highlights so far. Unit of the department is clearly in the hands of the next attorney general I can assure you I do not regard myself as so anything other. Then the lawyer for the people of the United States. You promise to end poorly court house against an artist. Any attack on a federal building or damage to a federal building violates. The federal statutes. And those who do it we'll. He prosecuted by Graham parents fled anti semitism persecution. Country to consider it cannot protect us and I feel an obligation to the country to pay back. And since the height of this best use of my own set of skills to pay back. And so I want pretty much be the kind of current attorney general that your. Saying I could become. An emotional judge Merrick Garland there during his confirmation hearings today let's bring in ABC news political director at Klein. For more on how things are going Rick and keeping the Justice Department free from political interference has been a big theme today. What are the concerns on both sides there and how has Garland respondents those questions. It has been questioning from both sides and it's just someone indication of the baggage that. A judge Garland would inherit if he's confirmed as attorney general as expected. There are Republicans who are still concerned about Obama and era scandals. Involving the politicization of justice in in their new and of course the whole loads of investigations left over from the truck are reading from the did the origins of the Russian probe are right through Hunter Biden the president's son. And of course his handling of the January 6 riots in investigations that may. Involved directly president try ITC judge Garland I think cognizant of the moment cognizance of the politics and trying to do an appeal to some calm along lawmakers. Mean in trying to signal that he understands how this works and saying flatly that he was ordered to do something that he thought was an appropriate he would resign he's not gonna allow for this position or any kind of political bullying claims he's decision making battle Republicans believing him at his word and that's that that's the statement that he's not but he apparently deliberate act. Rick systematic racism are systemic racism rather and inequality in the justice system is something president Biden has long say each he wants his attorney general to address so what are we learned about garlands priorities. In this hearing so far. Yeah he's he's addressing them head on talk about the roots of the of the department decades ago loading in combating racism money in establishing a bigger priorities around civil rights and civil rights division I saint directly that he thinks there is systemic racism I got some sharp questioning from Republicans about what that mean exactly what senators has over you basically calling. I anyone and anyone in this sanity in a racist but he understands I think the priorities here and they are Biden priorities and I'd also note that president Biden got a lot of pressure to to appoint an attorney general color I think it is important message for Merrick Garland as as a white American and as a federal judge to to show that he gets it in the years it and that he's going to invigorate his Justice Department with policies whether it's around sentencing reform or marijuana legalization or the the death penalty all of those things I think feeding into that the broader rubric of civil rights and no sign of equal justice including. Taking on some of these issues of racial tension had a law. And Rick Carlin called in January 6. Insurrection quote the most heinous attack on a democratic processes. He that he's ever seen so where do you expect. He'll take the investigation. That attack based both on what he said in this hearing and also his background on domestic terror cases. Yeah he is saying its is number one priority the first. Briefing he intensely yet after he's confirmed and he's saying that he would take on this investigation directly and critically follow it up strain which is to say not just go after prosecute the individuals that capital a look at who their funders war look at the rhetoric that may have led to a and whether that includes president trump or not of course is going to be a huge question and not something the judge Garland is prepared to answer all without getting those kinds of briefings. But I do think that the experience of Oklahoma City in a long before we knew we and it's the failed nominee for the Supreme Court when Republicans wouldn't even give him a hearing under President Obama he was known nationally as the chief prosecutor of those Oklahoma City bombings. He has talked at length about the told that took on his personal life for the time with young children how difficult those prosecutions work how determined he was to see them all the way through and yes he's gonna take this is always is a more complicated issue because you have so many individuals who were involved in that attack at the capitol and judge Garland making very very clear today that he found that in his words to be a heinous attacks that deserves the full scrutiny of the Justice Department. Need ABC political director Rick Klein thanks Rick. That it would ABC news exclusive a capitol police officer who fought off the violent mob on January 6 is telling his story on camera. For the very first time officer Harry Dunne told our Chief Justice correspondent peer Thomas what he saw that day and how he's moving forward. There were so many calls on the radio. Priority help help somebody's trapped we need help shots fired. When capitol police officer Harry Dunn went to work on the morning of January 6. It felt like a normal day plus the first moment. Did you begin to get a sense that something is off kilter here can we. Would till two. Giddy helmets and riot helmets. And that was new but no assists and all hell could preclude court. Clinton did in the thirteen year veteran seen here wants is that crowd of thousands. Closed in on the east side of the capitol. Easy CC. Old people. Trunk legs confederate flags. And blue line flags don't tread on me flags depending on the den and see officers fighting. Wouldn't keep pepper spray and smoke grenades destiny's. Pepper balls. Being claimed by everybody slash span we've for it with these people. Who were prepared. For a fight. They had investments they had no body armor they had going two way radios. They handle tactical gear blew the true because they were ready to go when you see that level of preparedness. To death surprised you didn't scare you almost scared I was absolutely scared and his platform. I'm a big guy I'm six for seldom does jive person. And we had our guns out and I think in all these people out there there are intent. And let. People decide what's it mean I hope I remember at one point has said. How with a spoon and eventually the mob forces who wait inside the capitol building. She done confronting the group carrying a blue lives matter plan. That's it we got dozens of officers. There are dozens of officers down. I have a moment where they. They came to and they realize like you know what are we doing. Like the income snapped out of and they said. Now we're doing this for you we're doing this for you. And as what you guys kept walking by. The one pulled out his beds. And say it trust me understand we're doing this for you buddy. He's got a it's. He showed his best ways to correct bill fellow officers can you got it was kidding me. You gotta be kidding me exhausted our sued done trying to reason with a large group of protesters approaching our Har away he was guarding. Others told them if they want to get to hear you gotta go to me. And they did they just started talking to me they were saying how Joseph Biden did not win the election. And nobody voted for him. So I took the bait. And okay we're blow me I voted for Joseph Biden is my boat and I tell this is where an officer Dunn and touted the couple in the crowd. Began hurling the most violent racial slurs at him a black officer. Girlfriend sit on a pink magna shares. Today. I voted for Joseph Biden guys. Today everybody is a motive for Joseph Biden visited you. Sort of crowd join everybody everybody joined him with whom you're gonna capital defending the capital. And some power raced seeped into that to everybody wants to save that. And who's about politics and everything but there was a large number of people in that crowd. Data were racists did to people who were there to tell you why they were there. We're stopping the steal. According to them they would doors for a us they're taught us a favor. Accorded those terrorists. You very precise use it was use the word terrorist absolutely absolutely. It wasn't just. Mob or a bunch of thugs you know who they were terrorists. They tried to disrupt this country's democracy. That was good goal. You know what you'll failed. Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas and ABC news contributor and former FBI agent Greg Garrett joining us now for more. What stood out and moved you the most as you listen to officer Don. The first about he's speaking for himself and not department weren't so make that known. I think this year's chaos. The pandemonium. The medieval style fight it was going on there inside that inside that building. It's jarring. You can look in his eyes and see that he's still. Processing at all. And he is dumb founded. Angry Bob this year otter bald faced naked racism that he saw. And Brad would make of Dunn's account of how prepared are on prepared. Law enforcement was that day. They were shameful. And prepared. And I don't think it was a capitol police's. Office. Them themselves and the need the chief and the people around the chief may be in uniform. I don't think it was their fault I think it was the fault of people above them I believe chief's son of former US capitol police she'd ask. For more hell he asked for the National Guard. He was turned down and he was told at the optics quote unquote war right the National Guard there. Nor initially Diddy and any other law enforcement career. I mean it you just see this massive and breakdown. That was it was obvious. What was about the happen. In eight you know it just is filled out in front of all of this in in the first two things I thought after it was over it is. It didn't need to happen. And the idea that there were actually sworn officers in that crowd that was part of that riot. It it just seeks volumes about how brain war urged some people really are. And peer attorney general nominee Merrick Garland whose confirmation hearing is happening in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Right now he is said that he will establish an independent outside panel to investigate the capital siege. What's the status of the investigation right now and how could that panel helped. Well in terms of any panel by DOJ. Wooden deck to be complicating because there is an ongoing criminal investigation right now. They have a dignified. Well over 200 suspects -- told that hundreds more. Are being looked at 200 or so. Two orders so I've been charged so this is the biggest most sweeping. FBI investigation in recent memory perhaps the biggest ever. And just imagine trying to assign specific acts and find evidence spot all those suspects. And they're trying to build toward sedition cases have been some conspiracy charges brought. But he literally trying to identify everybody in that building particularly the people. Who committed acts of violence and vandalism. And separate and apart from that. You have to worry about. The various groups that have been cited. As to whether they pose a domestic terrorism Tara. And Brad you touched on law enforcement being part of that crowd we heard adopt this or done in the inner view saying at least one of the rioters. Showed him a badge so what do we know about the extent to which law enforcement officers. Participated in this assaults right now and and how can not. Part of the story change the impact of this event when you look at it from an investigative perspective. So let's start with how many were there I don't really know. There have been publicly a number of officers that have been fired suspended. For various agencies across the country. But I think it really the most important element of this is. Why they felt justified. The literally break the law and potentially harm and or kill. LO police officers. Ended it we really need to get to the based rid of that that's the real key here. Because I don't feel like this ship is going to turn around. Until peoples' eyes are really open and they can sneak it except. The things as they've been told like the election was a fraud except for a is just not true. But I will tell you that's a difficult thing to do particularly when people are basically brainwashed. Is that they have to get disillusioned at some point. And I don't see that happening yet. And Pierre Thomas and Brad Garrett great to have you both thank you. Don't. As the country approaches 500000. Kobe if that's the big question now is when millions and the millions of Americans. We still need financial help in the pandemic get it. The latest from Washington after this break. I. You have always live with death around the have been doing this to more than twenty years. Split just to have it right next to you literally. Side by. Something off a bad horror movie we thought it was okay it's a start working and those directions. And then I got infected and and then my father got sick as well. And two other people. Who coworkers for a permanent chief at state and they end up. It's it's hard when you lose somebody but an especially because then it. These people have been able to see their loved ones in the hospital they haven't talked to them and they want to see and immediately. And you know I think we're just people trying different things to do the best we can't navigate through this with us we know how. He had just got the vaccine that week so he found his symptoms where from the vaccine. But he wasn't scared of the book the hospital apartments you can say that I never once doubted that he was not gonna make it knows soul. I so believed in him and make big. Start. Welcome back everyone those were just a few of the countless Americans who lost a loved one Inco bid nineteen. Nearly half a million people have died from the virus now that's more than the amount of US soldiers who died. During World War I World War II the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. Mary Alice parks is covering it all for us from Washington today Mary Alice the case of vaccinations. Really continues to increase but how much did the winner whether. Slow things down. Yeah actor we know that the vaccine role I was impacted in all fifty states. The White House saying that about three days worth of shipments about six million. Vaccine doses were held up because of the weather should they're pretty comedy about two million of those doses now out. FedEx and UPS worked through the weekend to try to make up for lost time which they're hoping that they can get caught up and back on track. By in this weekend but look we're talking about tens of thousands of appointments that were canceled. Some of those mega vaccine sides from Disneyland to the sports arena is out here on the East Coast. Had to temporarily close and so they're trying to reschedule ever runs appointments and get back on track. United take my dad daughter in for an appointment and I just saw the lines around the hospital here locally. Close to us. Looping at least twice it's pretty remarkable just the weights and the patience for that vaccine. Meanwhile house Democrats expected to pass president Biden's pandemic really planned by the ended the week right so what happens. Next and could the final bill passed. I Democrats in the house are making sure they're gonna give Democrats in the senate the option to pass it without any Republican support. They're working on a budget bill and that paves the way for the senate to potentially pass a bill with just Democrats in just a simple. Majority if they choose to go that route the house budget committees finishing up its mark up and it's committee work today. They're expecting that it's gonna go to a house floor vote. Probably by Friday or Saturday so that means we can see this bill this budget bill in the senate by next week. I think we work into the weekend again Mary Alice parks thanks so much and thanks. And for more on all this celebrity emergency physician in ABC news medical insure your doctor Darian Sutton doctor Sutton. Good morning less than a year ago doctor fact he said that we could have boy and reaching 200000. Debts. Cherie are now just about at 500000. How to get here. All this numbers this devastating and honestly in many ways is incomprehensible. As we I think continue to become numb to the daily deadly total of Kobe nineteen. How will scientists have long predicted this number are due to calculations and and mathematical equations that have been done on the back and but I have to say it's still shocking to see that number presently here and there are many different reasons why we've gotten here the first of which is that. These SARS could lead to virus is a novel virus meaning our immune systems were completely unaware of it which allowed it to rapidly spread and our communities of course transmission as a key part especially the transmission occurs from patients who are. Asymptomatic or without any symptoms or before they developed any symptoms at all that also has contributed to its exponential growth also testing and the beginning of this pandemic we had been paying playing a game of catchup and we still RS testing still has been and and continues to be limited in many parts of the country. And then of course our long term care facility communities as we know it we didn't realize quite how vulnerable they work on an as we know what currently they account for about 31% of the US population and they have attributed to over 30% of code in nineteen death and that's plays a significant stress. On our health care system that unfortunately was fragile to begin with as we know which after is a privilege in this country to many. And it's still remains to be inaccessible and not available to many who really really needed and of course lastly the argument over mitigation efforts preventative measures like wearing masks in distancing had been and divisive issue and still continue to be in many ways a political one and it just shouldn't be. And vaccine shipments were delayed across the country because of last week's winter storms so what we have to do now to get vaccine distribution back on track. I think there's a couple of tactics that we need to do number one planning that we need to understand exactly what amounted doses are available and when they're coming when we start to do these pop ups and create these venues where we can vaccine large groups of people. The bottleneck seems to come when we don't know when the next applies to you and that of course limits our ability to plan for the ball well three to four week. Second dose of the vaccine that should be available to patients that we need to plan and I also think we need to take advantage of this downtrend included nineteen numbers. And use that health care teams that are available and and contribute and and allowed him to participate and that vaccine distribution so hopefully when we when the weather is getting better and be distributions are becoming more available and we can distribute this vaccine safely efficiently and with some speed. And there's new headlines now saying that if you've had Kobe before one dose of the vaccine might be enough you say that's not quite the full story what does the data on that show at this point. So this is very preliminary data that has yet to be peer reviewed and I want to emphasize that it is lab studies looking at studies of antibody protection it's not looking specifically. At the ability of the vaccine when it's stunning that way to protect against Soviet nineteen infections so just adds some background we know that it's vaccines available right now by as German journal are in are any vaccine thinner and are completed in need tune dose regiment first I was is meant to prime your immune system and the second dose is meant to boost your immune system. And convert hopefully that long lasting immunity an Arabic theory is that possibly those who have already been infected have technically been primed and that there was maybe they only need one dose to boost but again this is very preliminary these are very small studies. This provide some hand for the possible future. The recommendations still currently stands. If you have been exposed and have gotten coated nineteen and the vaccine becomes available to you to continue to do the same recommendation which is complete the cold dose rippled to dose regiment. All right secondary and sun is always great to have you thank you. Thank you. And before ego we're getting another look at Mars like we have never seen before NASA has just revealed new footage. From the perseverance roper a collar Percy by the way including the moment of that historic landing on Mars last week the road work. We'll continue exploring the red planet. Looking for evidence of life. And Diane at a and a red tube but our family has been watching this closely my sense city can't wait to touchdown on the craters some day I don't think it Anita Barry special pressure seen in the meantime he's got these pictures to my son is too young to understand any of it but I can't wait to be able to explain this to him and show him. Some of the in these images it's just incredible. And that it audio if you forgive me I have a kid that does it for us here on the breakdown.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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